I've lived most of my life in small to medium-sized communities. Aside from a few months in London and a few years in Japan, most of my time has been spent in communities of around 100,000 people or less. There are a lot of ups to small town life (and these aren't real small towns, for the most part, but the fact that in Lawrence and in Provo and here in State College everything centers around the university gives life more of a small community feeling I think). Today, however, let me rant about one of the cons.
If you read this site, you know I'm a pretty big movie buff. Growing up, I worked at a movie theater (one of my favorite jobs ever in terms of perks: free movies for me and the fam, midnight screenings of new movies so you can see it before everyone else, etc. On the other hand, I hated working at the concession stands and the pay was lousy), so I saw a lot of movies. Now,since we have no kids, we have a lot of free time and therefore don't feel guilty about seeing a lot of movies. Lawrence was great. There were several theaters and even an art theater for rare and limited release movies. (Side note: since I moved away, all the theaters but the art theater and a large theater have closed. That's sad, because options were good.) When I moved to Provo for school, there was no arthouse cinema, but there were a couple very nice and comfy theaters and a great dollar theater, so it fed my need for a film fix just fine.
Now, State College isn't too bad. There are two older theaters, one new large 12-screen theater, and even a drive-in (double features $5 per person! We haven't gone yet because they're only open during the summer, but we're totally going to). However, all three of the regular theaters show the same movie in multiple theaters. We wanted to go see a movie today, for example, but the 12-screen theater got rid of the movie we wanted to see to bring in Madagascar on FOUR screens and keep Star Wars III on THREE screens. That means this huge theater is actually only showing six movies--and I'm sorry, but I don't want to pay good money for Madagascar, Monster-in-Law, or the like. In the whole town, on 23 screens (26 if you count the drive-in and the theater one town over), there are only eleven movies playing. Eleven! Isn't there something wrong with that? I admit there are movies that I stil want to see out of those eleven, but it just seems a better allocation of resources is needed. Just because this is a small town doesn't mean we don't want quality and variety.
By the way, if I had millions of dollars, I think I'd build a theater based on the Alamo Draft House in Austin Texas. Have you heard of this place? They take out every other row of theater seats and put in tables, and then you can order food (real food, not popcorn and stuff) during the film. They show all kinds of special screenings, as well as occassional big movies. Basically, it's like a party theater. And apparently it's one of the most popular theaters in town. Sounds like fun. Of course, I have many ideas for owning a movie theater, most of which would probably be too expensive to actually implement. But a boy can dream . . .